In the northern section of Sierra National forest but south of Yosemite National Park, is an OHV road that takes you to the lookout above Star Lakes. Of course to actually get to the lakes you have to hike.
We started the day with plans to meet up with some other locals trying to get a club up and running. However, we soon found out that their idea of a 4 wheel drive and ours were quite different. We would rather have our vehicle be able to actually leave at the end of the day and keep it running for several years. Needless to say, we broke off from that group along with our friends and a young man who was new to Jeeping and had the same feelings as us.
So, three Jeeps. Two new, one old. We set off to Star Lakes to have lunch at the overlook. I was using a couple forest maps that I picked up at a ranger station but I had never been this direction before. We kept the young man between us and our friends so we could all keep an eye on him in case he had problems.
It was a fun drive. Even with the missed turn, losing our friends and leaving the older Jeep on the side of the trail for awhile in order to reach our destination.
Following just the forest maps does not work. Where it showed going straight ended up being the wrong way. That is when we lost our friends because they were driving tail but hanging back to stay out of the dust. They took the right turn. The turn that had a little placard saying “Trail” and showing a person hiking. How was I to know that was the OHV trail? So, we lost time trying to find them only to find out they were now ahead of us.
We started up the correct trail after being told directions from some guys on dirt bikes. It was ROUGH. Big boulders, loose gravel. Luckily downed trees were already taken care of by others and pushed off the road. That is when the old Jeep couldn’t make it. We ended up pulling him up and then just parking it. The young man who was driving it hopped in with us and we continued to Star Lakes.
We found our friends, finally had lunch and enjoyed the views!
If you go out into the “back country” or anywhere in the forest for that matter, make sure you have some necessities.
A physical map. Even though ours sent us the wrong way it was very helpful on other parts of the trip. A great app to use is Avenza! You can find your physical map and download it. When you need to figure out where you are it shows your GPS location in reference to all the roads and trails.
A chain saw. In our part of the Sierra Nevadas it is really needed right now because of all of the dead trees falling. On this trip our friends carried one and we had saws. We are now looking into a battery operated chainsaw though. If you have any tips please let me know in the comments.
A shovel. We prefer a fold-able shovel just because of space. It is needed for more than just getting a vehicle unstuck. For instance, if you come across an abandoned campfire!
Go out planning on having fun! And don’t get lost!